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Hans Zimmer Live 2017: The Embodiment of Music

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Hans Zimmer and his orchestra and band live. For me, it was one of those exceptional points in life when you’re beyond happiness and feel utterly euphoric. Hans Zimmer is best known for his music compositions for the films Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King, Interstellar and Inception, amongst many others.

My facebook post immediately after the show pretty much summed it up:

“All I can say is that is the most excited I’ve been for years. Hans Zimmer Live. Not just a great evening of music, but human spirit, musicianship, camaraderie (the kind only shared by an orchestra and band…it’s always something very special that I can’t put my finger on), emotion, drama, showmanship, amazing videography, and let’s not forget the sound production, orchestration and staging. Makes my heart pound and want to get out all of my instruments and play until I’m exhausted, write music and get utterly lost in it. Wow. Just wow.”

Hans Zimmer opened the performance spectacularly, voicing his loss for words over the tragedy at Grenfell Tower that occurred in London earlier this week, where scores of people perished or were injured due to a fast spreading fire in a set of high rise flats. He said he felt heavy in the knowledge of all the victims and their families and would donate the proceeds of the night’s concert. The heartfelt sentiment of humanity and unity was not restricted to the beginning of his show, but sung throughout.

His love and care for his orchestra, choir and band was evident from the introductions he gave to each of them, many of whom he had known for years. What was truly special about the concert was not just the music, but the clear respect the musicians had for each other. The genuine smiles and an unfeigned enjoyment of being and performing onstage together.

The staging was amazing, with the choir seated on high at the back, with the orchestra tiered below and then the band at the forefront. All were backlit by some amazing videography – shapes and forms representative of the evolving music onstage. When soloists played, beautiful pre-recorded close-ups of their instruments were screened in sync with them playing live onstage. For those less familiar with playing music, this would be a lovely introduction to seeing the complexities of musical performance – the workings of the instruments and the fast and/or delicate movements of the musicians.

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Hans played the piano, keyboards, guitar, banjo and timpani, fully engrossing himself with the machinations of the band. At one point he even rapped (more as a joke) along with Trevor Horn of The Buggles, to the ’79 Video Killed the Radio Star.

Pedro Eustache, wind extraordinaire, was playing a variety of flutes, saxophones, clarinets and even the duduk for the haunting melodies of the Gladiator soundtrack. I was in absolute awe listening to him play.

Guthrie Goven was on lead guitar, absolutely slaying each piece in an understated, laid back manner.

Satnam Ramgotra on drums. He created an utter wall of sound and was a clear highlight, particularly during the first half of the night.

Tina Guo on electric cello was a crowd pleaser (for the men in particular, with some ‘I love you’s shouted from the crowd). Her headbanging and general presence brought drama to the stage.

Czarina Russell, vocals. The unenviable position of having to sing for the Gladiator Medley, which is a hard task with Lisa Gerrard’s iconic voice always stealing that place in everyone’s heart who has watched the movie or heard the soundtrack. Amazing voice.

I think the real highlight however, was all of the performance combined. Each individual, including the sound engineers and backstage / out-of-sight-out-of-mind personnel, had pulled everything together for a night of musical exuberence and thrill. The evening left me hanging on for more and I had that rush of adrenaline and sense of being totally lost in the music that happens once in a blue moon. If you haven’t got a ticket, go buy one and do not miss this tour!

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